Aug 24, 2018

Powell reiterates steady rate hike plan, economic strength

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The main takeaways from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's closely watched speech today in Jackson Hole, Wyoming were pretty much what Powell has indicated before: the economy is good, and interest rates are going to go up.

Why it matters: Investors were watching because they're looking for hints about how the Fed is considering the possibility of an "overheating" economy, the trade war or recent emerging market turmoil and what it means for the central bank's rate hike framework. But for this speech to a summit of central bank officials, Sarah House, a senior economist at Wells Fargo, tells Axios: "[Powell] is trying not to make waves."

What Powell said:

On rate hikes: "If the strong growth in income and jobs continues, further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will likely be appropriate."

On the strength of the economy: "With solid household and business confidence, healthy levels of job creation, rising incomes, and fiscal stimulus arriving, there is good reason to expect that this strong performance will continue."

Between the lines: There was no mention of trade or tariffs in the speech. Why? House tells Axios:

The heightened focus on this speech means that a mention of trade policy could be viewed as too much of a foray into the President’s policy realm. Given that Fed independence is under more pressure than at any time in the past four decades, I think he’s trying to lead by example and stick to his lane.

The backstory: It's Powell's Fed chair debut at the annual gathering, and the speech comes days after President Trump's most recent criticism of the Fed's raising of rates. Powell's comments are consistent with the minutes from the Fed's most recent meeting showed officials are ready to hike rates at least once more this year.

Go deeper:

Fed minutes show support for rate hike and concern about trade

Trump hits Fed Chair Jerome Powell for rate hikes, again

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Former Vatican treasurer George Pell's sexual abuse convictions overturned

Cardinal George Pell at the County Court in Melbourne, Australia, in 2019. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, has won his appeal and had his child sexual abuse convictions overturned by Australia's High Court.

Why it matters: The cardinal became last year the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to go to trial and be convicted for sex abuse. But the High Court's ruling means he can be immediately released from prison, where he was serving a six-year sentence.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 42 mins ago - World

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 10,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 10,000 in the U.S. on Monday, per Johns Hopkins data. More than 1,000 people in the U.S. have died of coronavirus-related conditions each day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,341,907 — Total deaths: 74,476 — Total recoveries: 275,851Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 364,723— Total deaths: 10,781 — Total recoveries: 19,346Map.
  3. 2020 update: Wisconsin governor orders in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  4. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  5. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  6. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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